Written July 2016
I was recently at my grandparents’ 70th anniversary party (woah, right? They’re pretty inspirational.) and I found myself in one of those situations where I’m, for the most part, surrounded by people I haven’t seen in over 10 years. You know exactly what I’m talking about. These sweet women coming up to you saying “I haven’t seen you since you were THIS high!” (with their hand pointed at their knee) and men in suits standing next to you, chatting about golf and the weather. Naturally, the amount of times I was asked what I was doing this summer, what I planned on doing after I graduated, and if I had a boyfriend at UGA was ungodly. As my immense life plans were constantly brought up, I found myself directing my thoughts to how different my life has become from where I had planned it to be. Already, my high school and college life has been nothing like I expected, and I’m only 20 years old! I thought, “How messed up would my failed plans look if I gave them a lifetime to pan out?” Yikes. Well, that’s what I thought at first.
As a college-student who puts way too much pressure on herself to do it all, I can honestly say it crushes me when my future doesn’t follow my perfectly crafted plan. In true over-achiever fashion, I consistently find ways to blame myself for where my plans have gone astray. No matter how hard I’ve worked towards a goal, if it fails, I’ll beat myself down until I find something else to set my eyes on (and I will probably still be mad at myself). Like many others, I carry so much on my shoulders and sometimes have trouble giving it to God. I refuse to use God as a guide because I feel like I need to figure it all out on my own. What I’ve recently found, however, is this common lifestyle of our generation is impossible to uphold. It seems as though if we don’t have a precise career plan, a steady boyfriend/girlfriend, and the will to save the world by the time we’re 23, then we have serious reason to worry that our life will be a failure. Our problem is we think we have to have it all pinned down by the time we graduate college. How crazy is that? We’re only a fraction through our lives (we’re just getting started, really), and we put so much pressure on ourselves to have it all figured out.
A verse that parallels this issue is found in Psalm 37:4, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Until a short time ago, I always understood this verse to mean God would give me whatever I wanted, if the reason was good enough and if I put all of my attention on Him. That isn’t exactly it, but the true meaning is actually a lot more comforting. This verse communicates that if we put our whole hope in what the Lord has for us, not what we plan for ourselves, then He will make our desires equal to His desires. He will help us change our earthly perspective to one of an eternal perspective, and provide us with unexplainable peace for the bridge between what we desire for our life and what truly happens in our life.
It can be extremely disappointing to pray so relentlessly for your goals and aspirations to come to true, and to have them simply fall short. God doesn’t always answer our prayers like we hope, but if we are still and let Him mend our broken hearts, He promises He will bless us with the miracles we truly need, if only we open our eyes to them. We undoubtedly have influence with God through our prayers, but He is still God, and His ways are higher than our ways; His thoughts are greater than we could ever comprehend, but they are filled with love. Remember, God hasn’t forgotten about you. The events that take place in our short time here are no accident. Even the smallest part of your day was crafted to bring beauty to the world. You were created EXACTLY as you are, with the EXACT experiences you have had, to shine God’s glory. Woah.
I hope this post doesn’t make you lose your zeal for making life amazing, because having big plans is what makes the world the exciting place that it is, but if you find that some of those plans aren’t going how you thought they would, don’t give up. Open your heart to the direction God is leading you, because I promise it is even better than where you were headed before. Wake up each morning with the peace of knowing God is with you, no matter what the day brings. Surrender everything you thought you would be, and open yourself up to everything you can become.
I’m 20 years old, I don’t have a plan to save the world, I’ve never had a boyfriend, and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. This isn’t exactly the fairytale I dreamed of when I was five, but God has pushed me and grown me in ways I never would have expected of myself. It’s not at all what I planned, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’”